Monday, 30 November 2009

Kitchen Whizz

Hannah, John and I were drooling over a great looking pumpkin and apple pie with a meringue top made by Hugh on River Cottage the other night. It looked so good, Hannah and I made it together on Saturday. From the pasty base to the filling and the meringue. The result, to look at was superb, but we did not enjoy it all that much. The pumpkin was too fiberous and too pale, but we are going to try it again.

Hugh did give one tip which we tried. To make sure the egg whites are really fluffed up, one should be able to hold the bowl of them upside down over one's head.

Hannah demonstates in this photo!

Friday, 27 November 2009


I cooked a rabbit on Saturday night last week and it was absolutely delicious. I am not squeamish about game on the whole. Man has always eaten rabbit. The Japanese used to have a (red) meat free diet as the consumption of animals with fur was considered unclean. They did however, eat rabbit, and to get around that, the Chinese character for rabbit has a bird radicle. Rabbits 'fly' and therefore fell into the fowl category!! Hannah would not eat it, and Adam did not want to, but after trying the dish agreed it was excellent.

I did it with a cream and white wine sauce served with mashed potatoes and caramelised mushrooms.

Bouyed by this, yesterday at the farmer's market I bought two pheasants....

Again I have been putting ads in the local paper, this time looking for unwanted knitting wool. Two women responded and as yesterday was my half day, as soon as work was over, I drove to Burgess Hill to collect a bag. The rest will be delivered next week...

It was my first solo trip on the motorway, and it went very well. The lady, Silvia, had prepared a large black garbage bag full of wool for me and in exchange I gave her a tin of Christmas biscuits. I am very pleased that now there are more colours to work with. My mind has been racing with ideas and there is even a pattern in my head...and all this from someone who has been doing it for 3 weeks!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Missing persons

A young policewoman visited the office this morning enquiring about a couple of missing Russian women. They wanted to know if anyone had been in looking for accommodation. A few months ago I met a Russian woman and her daughter and spent some time with them showing a flat and talking to them about how they could set up rent payments when they not working and on student visas. I liked them, they were very excited about the flat they saw and they kept hugging each other.
In the end they could not make the transfer of funds from their home country and it fell through. There were some tears and it was frustrating not to be of use.
The chances are that the women who are missing are not the two that I helped and I really hope that they aren't. However, at the end of the day, somewhere a family is missing two members and the police here are trying to find them.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

I can do it

The other night a friend and I had a self teaching session with crochet. It was fun, but my limited knowledge probably did her more harm than good! I am more and more fired up to do the babette blanket and with perserverence this week have managed to make my first square. I know what to do now and the next step is to learn how to join different colours.

The quilts are languishing as the thrill of a new texture and skill blot out their appeal....but they will get done. At this stage of life it is not wise to leave too many things incomplete. It is about time there was something to show for all the hard work, piles of fabric, pins in the carpet, bleeding fingers and hours and hours of dreaming!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Rite of passage

Adam is 18 today. An adult and like ancient tribal tradition in many parts of the world he will undergo a rite of passage today to mark the occasion. He has arranged to have a tattoo done on his chest! John and and I are concerned. I don't think a tattoo is something one lives to celebrate...they tend to be regretted. But Adam is an adult and he marks the event in his way.

Just hope he is not in too much pain.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Bah! Humbug

This time of year does two things to me. Fills me with good cheer towards my fellow man and makes me want to run away, espcially from the songs and decorations that are around us for months and most especially from the imposed need to SPEND LOTS OF MONEY. me it is the getting together of people. Loved ones, new ones, friends. To eat and celebrate together. The table groaning with lashings and lashings of food (Enid Blighton) and maybe a walk later.
What I DO NOT LIKE is the lists of things people want (including me). I have been chasing my lot to tell me what they want and to be honest, they struggle. We tend to live (loosely) by a 'buy what you need rather than what you want' rule, then at this time of year (and birthdays) we are faced with the want question.
We always spend too much, I always worry that the meaning of the season is lost. I worry too much.
This year I have decided to make a list for the family of EXACTLY what I think I want, including pictures from a catalogue, prices the lot. No mystery, no fun one might think. But I do not want my loved ones trying their best to please me when I am actually very pleased. I have all I need. I do not want THINGS. I have even asked for nothing to be told there must be something under the tree for me or they would feel strange. So my wish list includes:
A quilting mat with ruler.
A filleting knife for cooking
A gift voucher from Monsoon or East.
A possible renewal of my Gardener's World subsciption...I love this magazine, but am tempted to look for something crafty....maybe.
That is it. Happy, content!
I hope I have the strength to stick to my resolution of not being caught up in a shopping frenzy!

Monday, 16 November 2009

KOZUE chan

This is Kozue chan, named by first amigurumi attempt. Am pretty pleased with her!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Baby steps

Last night I started following an amigurumi (crocheted or knitted soft toy) pattern and am half way through my first kokeshi doll. She is a little wide, but there is a shape....don't want to say too much more as there are some things on the pattern I do not understand yet. It was very exciting for me and more so for Em, who took my first lop sided attempt off my hands to create a little will follow, but he has only one ear and is not ready to be photographed. I sat with the family and we all watched tv, but my hands were busy. Fantastic.
The link here shows the doll, as mine is bald at present, I am not sure what hair she will end up with!
John and I are off this weekend, sans enfants, about which I cannot help but fret, but they can manage. We are going to the Windsor area and to Forest Green. Lots of eating out with friends and a night away....

Friday, 13 November 2009

Me Time

Today I had the day off. It was pouring with rain and the roads are partially flooded outside town, but this was a big chance to have some me time and I went to Lewes, regardless! It is on the River Ouse and has an old part of town with a brewery, still making the local beer, and lots of antique and bric a brac shops. Even in the heavy rain, it was nice pottering around. Of course I went to the charity shops too and bought two pieces of blue and white china. I used to buy it all the time and have a few nice pieces, but of late I do not like to add to the considerable clutter of this house, nor do I like to part with my money! Something got me going and though and these are the purchases ( see above).

I had lunch overlooking the river....

I wanted to look at fabrics and get some inspirations for colour and projects and I wanted to take some photos too...the latter didn't happen till I got home.

Still, it was my first solo drive anywhere beyond Forest Row, I listened to Women's Hour on the radio on the way and was really cheered by a group of knitters talking about their exhibition. They have made life sculptures with their knitting and some of the stories they told were hilarious. One woman KNITTED a pair of SWIMMING TRUNKS ( the mind boggles and I am sure some parts itched!!), for her husband, but when he jumped into the pool, they expanded so much that it took both him and his wife to hold them up so that he could clamber out of the pool and rush into the cubicles to get changed!!

The rubbish bin, complete with baked beans heading for it, is from that exhibition. They knitted a bicycle, a lamp stand, a carpenter's bag and tools and a midwife's bag and its equipment to name a few things. I would love to see the display.

The day is not over and I am full of ideas, such a pity that meals have to be prepared and houses cleaned up!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Car sick

At lunch time yesterday the electronic fob for the car would not open it. I walked home to see Hannah, who was ill and off school, picked up the spare key grabbed something to eat and taxied back to town. At the end of the day the spare key would not open the car either. I called our service company to be told the policy had lapsed! So I walked home again. Sore feet but good for my diet.
Last night the girls had their 'launch party' for the Alice in Wonderland performance they are both appearing in in the new year, so we went there by taxi, and I came home, then went out again at 9:30 in another cab to get them. We are a one car family for a reason, we don't need two cars, but boy do I miss our one car when it is not well.
This morning I schlepped into town again and the service engineer charged up the battery for me, I put petrol in it and went home to let the engine run in our driveway while I sewed a bit more of the quilt. 30 minutes late for work, but with luck the car is going to be fine at lunch time.

Monday, 9 November 2009


I would love to make this blanket.
The only hitch is that I can't actually read a crochet pattern! Undeterred, I sat in front of the computer last night with my ball of wool from the charity shop and my spiffing new crochet hook and did my best to follow an online video tutorial. I tried three tutorials and it was beginning to make sense...only all three tutors had vastly different styles and terminology. The results weren't great, but it is definately worth perservering with.
On a more positive note, I managed to get all the ironing done and out of the way on Sunday morning and then just took the time to continue piecing together the hexagon quilt. Can't wait to get it together so that I have something to hand quilt!

Saturday, 7 November 2009


I must be a very lucky step-mother. My step son is intelligent, kind and easy going and never have I felt the least hostility or resentment from him. He lost his mother only two and a half years ago and whatever he went through, he did not act out on it. I find it hard to tell him off though! But I am getting better at asking him to give me a hand and to do his chores.
John on the other hand has more of a challenge. The girls push harder and test his patience a lot more. They are reluctant to respond, to help, to participate and to share and even more reluctant (one of them at least) to enquire of others how they are, feel, etc. Their world is quite narrow, at least to us looking in. One is almost tempted to label it shallow. But....part of me thinks that this is them going through that part of their lives and all that counts is 'mates' and having a good time and the rest of us are a bunch of nagging dullards.
Hope so. Hate it when those I love are not talking to each other.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Other people's Blogs

From time to time I search Google images for pictures of quilts. I like bright strong colours and love the fabric of Kaffe Fassett, although my own work is far more subdued. I also greatly admire women (they are usually women) who have a natural skill for putting together quilts on a machine, who cut well and who experiment with hues. One blog I found lately really appeals and it gets me into the mood to SEW.
I am not sure of the protocol of adding this to my own, but if you are at all into fabric, this is a nice one.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Sewing bee

We had our first sewing bee last night. Celia arrived with lots of samples and an old copy of an older book showing how to do them all! Hannah did not warm to the notion, but Em plodded on and did some running stitch and then a French Seam! (See above)

Hannah was then fired into planning a quilt with the names of all her friends stitched on to it...and by the end of the session she was happily sewing.

I was reluctantly sewing the hexagon quilt as I am keen to move on....yet another unfinished project looms. BUT once started it was very satisfying.

Next week we meet again and let's see how we get on then!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


It was great having my parents to stay and horrible saying good-bye. Australia is a long way away.

The last week they were here I was on holiday. We enjoyed mild and mostly sunny weather for the week and did a lot. ( Here they are at East Court, situated on the Meridian Line which runs through the town)

We went to Forest Green in Surrey to a lovely pub called the Parrott Inn. There we met up with Mum's eldest sister and her husband. When I was a small child and was in boarding school in Belfast, they took care of me at the weekends as my parents were in Nigeria.

We visited Tunbridge Wells again, and Tesco's in Three Bridges...On Wednesday John and I took a day out for a date and went to London and the girls had a day with Grandma and Pappy.

Thursday was a day at home, tidying and cleaning mostly, - my parents rarely rest and are brilliant at keeping the house clean and tidy....and on Friday, at 3pm we got married!

We celebrated at home afterwards with champagne and then played on the Wii!
Dinner for 12 at the local Thai restaurant finished off the day.

On Saturday, Mum and I went with my friend Celia to a craft show, but ended up finding only show dogs at the venue. Nice, but not the same....We went to Wakehurst Place (National Trust) instead and browsed in the mist, the shop and had the obligatory coffee break.

On Sunday, my parents took us out for lunch at Dunnings Mill Inn, another good food venue in town. Home for tea, a short walk and then their taxi was here at 6pm.

Green Tomato Chutney

What do you do when there are not enough green tomatoes to make a green tomato chutney? Add red ones!
Most of these were from the vines...the photos have been on the camera for ages. Love the colours and the smell was superb!
These photos have not appeared in the order that they were uploaded, but the gist is clear...Still one jar of chutney left.